Top 10 Celebrity Cancer Survival Stories

Script written by Nathan Sharp It's one of the world’s deadliest diseases, and these celebrities are proof that it can happen to anyone, but that it can be beaten. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Cancer Survival Stories. For this list, we're looking at those celebrities that were diagnosed with cancer and eventually went into remission. Special thanks to our user Lloyd Eksteen and TheMaverick2809 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Celebrity Cancer Survival Stories

It's one of the world’s deadliest diseases, and these celebrities are proof that it can happen to anyone, but that it can be beaten. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrity Cancer Survival Stories.

For this list, we’re looking at those celebrities that were diagnosed with cancer and eventually went into remission.

#10: Robert De Niro

Everyone’s favorite New York tough guy, from such fantastic movies as “The Godfather Part II” and “Taxi Driver,” was faced a tougher than usual challenge when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2003. Never one to give up, De Niro underwent surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in December of the same year, and successfully made a full recovery, while keeping information about his condition as private as possible. Less than a year later, he made his return to film, with movies such as “Shark Tale” and “Meet the Fockers,” putting him back on the brighter side of the limelight.

#9: Tom Green

Tom Green started out the new millennium as a guy with a popular MTV show, but early in 2000 that show went on hiatus after Green was diagnosed with testicular cancer. While his public persona previous to his illness was that of a shock comedian, the announcement allowed him to show a different side of himself on “The Tom Green Cancer Special,” by showing the realities of living with the disease. His special included graphic images of his own operation, which – thankfully – turned out to be a success and seemingly increased his fame and popularity tenfold. Then he celebrated by released “Freddy Got Fingered."

#8: Kathy Bates

Bates has been one of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses for decades, garnering critical acclaim for her psychotic performance in “Misery,” and again in James Cameron’s “Titanic.” Unfortunately, with a family history of the illness, she’s also battled more than one form of cancer, beginning in 2003 when she successfully – and secretly – took on ovarian cancer. After revealing her diagnosis six years later, her struggle with the disease continued, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 which resulted in a double mastectomy that left her with lymphedema. Throughout her ordeal Bates has proved herself to be just as tough off screen as she is on, becoming an ambassador for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network.

#7: Melissa Etheridge

Etheridge, a musician and singer known for her raspy vocals, earned her share of praise in the 1990s, including nabbing a Grammy award for her song “Ain’t It Heavy.” However, it was her successful battle with cancer in 2004 that garnered her significant attention. After undergoing surgery and chemo for breast cancer, she returned to the Grammy stage, bald from chemotherapy, to perform a celebrated rendition of a Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” Etheridge completed her comeback later that year with the release of her almost instantly gold selling Greatest Hits album. Bringing a face to cancer and speaking her mind at every chance, Etheridge also championed medical marijuana with helping her through chemo.

#6: Rod Stewart

A British singer who has six consecutive number one albums and is one of the best-selling artists in history, Rod Stewart is a legend of rock and roll – one with an unmistakable, raspy singing voice much like Etheridge. When he was already on the other side of his 55th birthday, Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in May of 2000 was a stressful one, as it threatened to rob the rocker of his iconic singing voice. He received immediate treatment, and the surgery was a success, but it took such a toll on his vocal chords that he had to entirely re-learn how to sing! If that’s not dedication to your art, it’s hard to say what is.

#5: Kylie Minogue

Best known as a candy-voiced vocalist, Kylie actually started her career in television, starring in the long-running Australian soap opera “Neighbours” for two years. After being deemed the “Princess of Pop” by the media, Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer during her 2005 Greatest Hits tour. Not one to let that stop her, she dealt with the intense media and paparazzi coverage, wrote a children’s book while she recuperated and continued the tour later that year, but with a less strenuous approach to the theatrical side of things. Even more importantly, some doctors have cited Minogue’s high-profile cancer case as a factor that encouraged young women to get regular checks for the disease.

#4: Michael Douglas

One of the most celebrated actors around, who’s even won the AFI Life Achievement Award, Michael Douglas is perhaps best known for his role as the greedy Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street.” Several decades after he played that character, in 2010 Douglas was diagnosed with stage IV tongue cancer. With the severity of this diagnosis, the actor had virtually no hope of survival, but his treatment was successful. Although American, Douglas’ cancer was actually identified by Canadian doctors after countless visits to American specialists failed to detect it, which is why Douglas had offered his time and fame to help raise money for the Montreal hospital where he was diagnosed.

#3: Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate, who most of you might recognize from the “Anchorman” movies, started her career on the often-raunchy hit sitcom “Married... with Children.” In August 2008, it was revealed that the 36-year-old Applegate had an early form of breast cancer. Due to early detection and the fact that she carried a cancer-triggering gene, Applegate easily beat the disease with a double mastectomy, and afterwards, changed her eating habits to a more healthy and balanced diet. She also involved herself in breast cancer charities, got back to work producing and acting in the sitcom “Samantha Who?” and returned to the big screen in a big way.

#2: Sharon Osbourne

Of all the Osbournes, Ozzy seems the most likely to have a health issue, but it was Sharon who looked death in the eye in 2002 during her battle with colon cancer, which eventually spread to her lymph nodes, giving her an uncertain 33% possibility of survival. Her diagnosis affected her family deeply, with Ozzy falling apart emotionally and her son, Jack, even attempting suicide. Luckily for her and her family, she pulled through, and her entire struggle was captured for the second season of “The Osbournes.” Ten years later, she chose to avoid another bout with cancer by undergoing a double mastectomy when she learned she carried a gene that increases breast cancer risk.

Before we take a look at our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- John Wayne
- Cybill Shepherd
- John Hurt
- Tig Notaro
- Cynthia Nixon

#1: Lance Armstrong

Cancer is something we all have to worry about, but it certainly isn’t a common concern at age 25. Unfortunately for famed cyclist Lance Armstrong, he was diagnosed with stage III testicular cancer at that age in late-1996, with his doctor claiming that he had next to no hope for survival since it had already spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen. Against all odds, Armstrong was declared cancer-free less than a year after his initial diagnosis, and went on to win seven straight Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. Despite the subsequent doping scandal that stripped him of his wins, Armstrong is still an inspiration to anyone challenged by cancer, encouraging them to Livestrong.

Do you agree with our list? What celebrity do you know of defeated cancer? For more courageous top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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